Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A Coaching Team Name

Oh my goodness! I'm a little perturbed at myself at the moment.

All these years trying to come up with the perfect team name for the many women's teams I was on, and not ONE time did I think to come up with a team name that might be helpful to myself and my teammates for when we played! ugh.

I know, I know you are thinking, "What the heck are you talking about now, Melinda??"

I'm talking about this:

The other day a friend of mine from Canada posted a shout out about her team.  "Won our first team match, next one at 8pm. STAY DOWN let's do this!"

I asked her, "uh, is Stay Down your team name or are you coaching from Facebook, lol?"

She said it was her team name and I immediately shook my head with disgust realizing all these years I could have had clever names that could HELP me when I played in team events!  But oh no!  I wanted team names that were funny or innuendoes, instead. Like, 'Nice Rack' or 'Just the Tip' or 'No Balls', etc.

This whole time, instead, I should have had a team name like Stay Down.  That's what I needed to remember in all those pressure team matches! I can hear my teammates now, "Come on, Stay Down!"  See?  Wouldn't even seem like we were being coached because it's our team name!

Opportunity missed, dang it!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Changing Your Break In the Middle of a Tourney

I was watching a stream over the weekend and actually had the sound on for once, and could hear the commentators.  I normally don't do that - I would rather just focus on the game and see how the players are doing and what their shot selections are, etc, instead of listening to opinions.

Don't get me wrong - certain commentators I will turn UP the volume (Jeremy Jones is one of the best commentators around and I learn a lot from him.  The other person I used to love to hear was Billy Incardona).

However, I don't normally want to listen to commentators.  As a matter of fact, I have a copy of the finals when my partner and I won the scotch doubles event at Texas BCAPL in 2014. I have yet to watch it with the sound on, lol.

But I digress....

I don't like listening to commentators of streams because I just don't always agree with their opinions and that distracts me, lol. If they are great at giving tips and I learn from them (like Jeremy or Billy), I love listening. I want to know why certain shots were good or talk about alternative options that might have been best. But when it comes to two people just talking in general about their opinions, it doesn't help me, and instead usually only annoys me, hahaha.

Case in point! The match I watched proved exactly why I don't like to listen to commentators. Someone just shoot me next time I turn on the volume! 

First of all, they highly favored one player over the other and didn't give the opponent her due justice. I would rather hear two guys talk highly about both players, not cheer for one over the other and not recognize good shots when they see it from the player they weren't rooting on.

But here was my biggest heartburn:

(as I type this out, I'm wondering if I should listen more, though, as it does give me topics to bitch/write about, lol.)

They kept talking about the break of the player they didn't root on. Basically, some of the players had great success breaking from the side rail. When you do that, you can usually pocket a ball on the break pretty consistently and also plant the cueball in the middle of the table. The commentators kept saying that for as far into the tournament as she was, they were surprised she wasn't breaking from the side rail yet. Her opponent would break from the side rail and pocket a ball and they would exclaim, "SEE!" lol. Further, they stated "that's the break for 9-ball."

While that may be true to some, I think it's ridiculous to suggest and/or expect someone to change their break in the middle of a tournament! When I worked on my break for bar-table 9-ball, I spent hours and HOURS trying to get it right - you need the right speed, feel, where to hit the rack, etc.  It's not as easy as just walking up to a table and simply starting to shoot from the rail and the magic happens. Noooooo. Especially for those of us who do not shoot from the rail at all, it's actually uncomfy and we don't have a feel for it right away. We have been breaking between the top two left (or right) diamonds with our hand on the bed of the table for 20+ years and now you suggest in the middle of a tournament someone needs to adjust their break? Come on people!

How about instead: "You know what, I hope this player recognizes from those around her at this tournament that the 'from the rail' break is more effective and she should practice it when she gets home and add it to her arsenal." NOT suggest she adjust her break in the middle (or end) of a tournament.


I wouldn't be so ornery about this if I didn't try to do this a few times and discovered for myself just how ineffective and what a horrible idea it was, lol.

When I tried to adjust my break in the middle of a tournament a few times, boy did it throw me off! I had no cue-ball control and the break I usually used was far more effective because I was already comfortable and used it for like 10+ years. One needs lots of practice to change where they break from if they've never broke from that spot before, so imho I think it's ill of them to pontificate their opinions about this.

Then again, I'm pontificating my opinions right here, so who am I to judge. ;)

Friday, February 22, 2019

Billiard Buzz Feb Issue - Me?

Mike Howerton turned the tables and interviewed me for Billiard Buzz.

The issue is out and if you have some time set aside, here is the link to it. I say that because it is kinda long. Sorry - I had a lot to say, lol!

It's actually been out for a week or so and I have been a tad confused by the lack of responses. I kinda opened my heart about some things from my childhood - I feel extremely vulnerable and raw about it. Been nervous when the issue would come out because of what I shared, but the response has not been what I expected, so guess I didn't need to worry at all, hahah!

I have asked a few friends about it and they said maybe people aren't mentioning the childhood thing because (1) I overcame it and (2) maybe people are too trepid to bring it up. I think also the interview is just simply too long... and the childhood part is at the end, lol.

Either way, my goal of every interview I conduct is so others can learn from them, so I hope to help at least one person sharing all I went through. Many people were surprised to read how I "used to be," because I'm so opposite of how I grew up. Boy, I am thankful for that!

One of the cool surprises is a few people I work with have read it and they are stunned all that I did with pool. And now they feel like they know a super star or something. pfft. Sheesh, stop with the hounding for autographs!  ;)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Not Exhausted During Tourney - Project Hunger Games

Katniss (of the Project Hunger Games series of my blog) shared with me in January "Oh btw...I reached a milestone this weekend. I was at the tournament all day mainly waiting, but I did not get tired! Usually by 7 pm I am wore out. I felt strong and awake at my match in the evening!"  

Being the nosey, curious person I am, lol, I asked her, "That's great!  What was the difference or what did you do different?"

Katniss: "I really don't know? I drank water and pepsi; no alcohol. I was nervous playing a super-high ranked player my very first match and even remember seeing my hands shake while trying to rack for him...but just did deep breathes. By my 4th match, all my nerves were gone!  I waited 5 hours before that match. I really don't have any idea. Maybe my mental toughness is getting stronger?"

I listened to her words, but my gut was telling me something different.

I prodded some more, "Didn't you mention you have been working out?"

Katniss: "Yes I am.. More lifting weights than anything."

Me: "Hmmm....I don't think mental toughness helps tiredness.  I think instead you working out helped you from getting exhausted."

Katniss exclaimed: "Oh, that could be very true! How many pros claim a healthy lifestyle helps keep them on point. Mmmm...interesting."

Me: "All pros in every sport.  Golf, too."

Katniss: "I will need to make a mental note of this milestone!"

Me: "Absolutely!"

I was so happy for her - overcoming exhaustion and finding out why is huge - and it will help her in future tournaments with long wait times.  

Awww, I love our journey with pool!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Danielson Series: Which Tournament to Choose?

There's many personal reasons that help us decide what tournaments we want to play in.

And I was lucky to get in the head of Danielson to see how and why he decided to play in a certain tournament one weekend.

Normally, he just plays in the tournament that is being held that weekend, but last Fall there were THREE tournaments on the same weekend. Pretty fortunate he had to suffer to make a tough choice, huh?  lol.

But, he had to weigh what each tournament offered (or didn't) and then figure out why he wanted to play.

One tournament was on bar tables and players had to have a Fargo under 640 to be able to play. The problem with that handicapped tournament was, the Tournament Director lets players play who didn't have "established" Fargo ratings and he would let them play due to "known ability" from word of mouth. Turns out, the top 3 players of the two previous tournaments were all unranked and "unestablished." Danielson didn't want any part of that again.

Another tournament was not handicapped at all. And it drew the top players from the area, because most top players do not want to play in handicapped events, they have a better chance cashing when they play everyone even. Danielson didn't want any part of playing all the top guys even.

Then there was the third tournament. This one also only allowed players who were ranked under 644 Fargo, but if players were not "established" in the Fargo system, that TD wouldn't let them play. Further, the other handicap tourney that weekend was winner break. This event was alternate breaks. Danielson WANTED a part of that, lol.

He said, "So if I play...I'm going to give myself the best odds...and alternate breaks with confirmed handicaps sounds best to me."

I was a tad surprised as that tournament was the farthest out of all of them, but he choose the tourney he thought he could place the highest in.  If you have choices, wouldn't you do the same thing?

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Skills from Competing Transitions to Other Areas

I talked yesterday about being concerned that my friends who love pool my be deterred or confused by my happiness to not be playing pool anymore. 

What I want to also say is I don't think retirement from pool means I'm not still working hard or being challenged.

I watched a show the other day about this pro skater who was admired and envied by many of the other pro skaters. It was very interesting because everyone talked about how he just quit the game one day when he wanted to. One of his friends said a lot of pro skaters (well, this is probably true for most athletes), that a lot of them quit competing when they lose their sponsorship, or they get hurt, or start a family or something like that. But this pro skater (his name was Heath Kirchart) decided on his own one day that it was just simply time for him to quit; and he has not once regretted his decision.

He was one the TOP skaters around! Doing extremely tough jumps with intricate aspects that not many others could do. He was adored and admired. So, everyone did not understand and were very surprised he could just quit so easily. 

It's important to point out he didn't stop doing things in retirement that were creative or mentally tough, hard, or challenging. On the contrary, he is actually doing some pretty amazing, challenging things. So while his sport of choice used to be pro skating, he just transitioned being challenged in other ways.

This really resonated with me. I didn't even realize I am kinda doing the same thing. 

I'm still successful, just not with pool anymore, and instead in a different part of my life (my job). You see, I want to be a better employee at my job, and I'm up for the challenge. So, I work hard, need to be mentally strong at times, handle stress, and am more involved to put 100% of my focus now towards my career. Just like I was doing with pool! Don't get me wrong, I still have more peace without competing in pool, but the hard work to become a top player is now directed towards a different area: my career.

I hadn't thought about this connection at all til I watched that tv show about Heath. 

Pretty cool!

BTW, Heath added something else pretty profound:  "I just think that life is really long," he says. "And I didn't want skateboarding to be the only side of life I saw."

Something for us all to ponder.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Your/My Pool Journey is Worth It!

I am beginning to wonder if I should reconsider sharing in my blog I enjoy not competing anymore.


I have many friends that don't just love pool, but live and breathe pool (just like I did for decades). And some of my friends started playing pool only in the last few years. So I really truly hope me sharing my joy of no longer competing will not deter them.

Admittedly, I have heard from a few people they completely relate to what I'm saying and it gives them relief to know they're not alone. You have to understand that it almost feels shameful and an embarrassment to admit we choose to not play pool right now in our lives and that we really are okay with it. 

So, while I know sharing my feelings are helping some, I hope at the same time I'm not hurting others. I hope they don't think that becoming mentally tough is hard or that competing isn't fun or that it's a lot work to play pool and deal with all the negative aspects of competition.

Well, wait, crap!  Haha, all of those things are true!  Don't be scared, though!  It's all part of the process of loving the game and improving.

I knew that competing was tough and that mental toughness was something I hadn't honed in, but yet I still competed for 25 years. Once my mental game and physical pool game came in the line at the same time, I became a force to be reckoned with!

And so that's what I would tell anyone who are starting out:  read my past enjoyment and realize that in order for me/you to become so successful, all the ups and downs of our pool journey is WORTH IT!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Career or Journey?

I think it's very interesting the different verbiage players choose to use when they talk about pool when it's been in their lives for a long time.  I describe it and see it as my "pool journey" and I specifically use the word journey whereas others usually call it their "pool career."

But, I think there are two very important and distinct reasons why I choose "journey."

I've never once called my pool journey a career. Why? Well, because I have a career with my day job that I've worked at since 1992. That career pays for my bills and is how I make a living. So, I'm not about to call my pool playing for 25 years a "career," because, well, it's just not true in my eyes (and hasn't paid the bills, lol).

The other reason is really more because of the relation to my blog. Yep, the one you are reading right now! I use the word "journey" instead of "career" because "journey" is in the title of my blog. So, journey naturally flows out of my mouth when I talk about my life with pool all these years. And I like to keep that connection, whether people know about my blog or not.

When I decided to start a blog, I first needed to come up with a title to even be able to sign up for one on After days of trying to decide on the absolute most perfect in the world best title, it finally dawned on me that in all reality, I would be writing about my journey with pool. And so there it was:  my blog officially became 'Pool is a Journey.'

Then my friend Juan helped me with the description, which is on the top of the blog.

"Living life to the fullest is a wonderful, amazing adventure; playing pool is one of the infinite paths of the adventure. This blog is about my life journey with pool."

Thank God he helped, too, because again I was struggled with the most perfect best words of the universe to use/choose and my brain was hurting from all the choices, lol.

I do wonder sometimes if I hadn't chose "journey" in the title of my blog, what word would I be using now instead when I talk about my life with pool?

Things that keep you up at night, too, huh?

Thursday, February 7, 2019

What Can Help Your Pre-Shot Routine Under Pressure

A couple of weeks ago I was watching a stream because one of my friends was on it. I don't check them out all the time, but I get more interested when I personally know one of the players.

My friend is an up-and-coming player and I happened to catch the end of his match and watch him play a couple of games - the score was about even (5-5), so it was a close one!

As I watched him, I kept thinking to myself I needed to get a hold of this guy and help him with his fundamental! He wasn't staying down at all and he was rushing his shots. That caused him to miss a lot. He also cared more about shape than making the ball, which also caused him to miss. His body language showed he was frustrated (and maybe embarrassed, too, I'm guessing), but he was missing because he wasn't taking his time or staying down and didn't have a good pre-shot routine.

I guess I'm like the cat lady, lol, who wants to help all strays in need. She swoops them up and takes them home so she can care for them.

And that's what I wanted to with this guy! I wanted to reach out to him and ask if we can meet up so I can try and help him with this game. You know, instill in him that he needs to stay down and focus on the shot and stop rushing! He would see so much more progress in his game and faster results if he did this. I guess wish someone would have taken me aside and given me a deep cleansing lesson. So, I want to help him so he doesn't have to struggle for a long time like I did, and instead sees results sooner.

Btw, he ended up losing that match. :(

But then something happened.

I saw on Facebook a few days later that he linked to the match. So, for whatever reason, I decided to check out how he started in the match - did he take the lead first or did he make a come back or were they about even the whole time until I showed up at 5-5 when I watched it live the other day?

And what I saw is a HUGE thing that reminded me of a tip I received once that I am super excited about to share with you all!

So, what did I see? I saw that he was playing good!

Wait, what?

Yep! He was staying down on his shots, he was taking his time, he wasn't rushing, he showed less "emotion" and he was playing jam up! One of the first or second games he even ran out from the 2 ball. I was impressed!

And then it hit me.

Without even seeing the middle of the match, I can tell you what happened. Why do I know what happened in the match without seeing it in its entirety? Well, because I'm psychic. No, no, that's not it! It's because I could clearly see his mannerism and body language and shot-routine were completely different from how he started the match to what I saw the other day at the end of his match.

I don't know exactly what happened (told you I wasn't psychic) but something "negative" happened that created emotions, stress, pressure, nerves, or embarrassment, etc that got his game off kilter.

What I learned once was, when you recognize you are playing badly/off due to pressure, or if you already know you will be playing in a pressure match, you need to take a couple more strokes than usual before you shoot the ball.

This may seem counter intuitive. You might be saying to yourself, "It is counter intuitive, Melinda. Everyone knows you should have the same pre-shot routine every shot; that includes the same number of strokes." And, THAT's TRUE. However, what you are trying do to when you are nervous or upset or feeling pressure, is to get back to your usual pre-shot routine. And taking extra strokes helps you do that and slows down your adrenaline a bit because your body has slowed down.

You see, the reason why my friend was missing wasn't because he didn't know how to stay down or not rush his shots. He was missing because he felt the heat of the game or was upset about something. So, taking a few more strokes before we hit the ball gets us back into our pattern. It slows us down. And that's what he needed - to slow down, stay down, be reminded of his great pre-shot routine. Nerves and pressure causes our pre-shot routine to leap out the window. Our arms feel like jello and we keep missing and we don't know why, which frustrates us even more. But, taking extra strokes before we shoot the ball keeps us down on the shot longer, which helps us from jumping up and rushing. For whatever reason, it WORKS.

I feel a little embarrassed I wanted to take my friend home and care for him like a stray, lol, when in fact he already shoots really good! Just needs to have this tool in his toolbox for when the situation arises in the future.

Don't worry, I will let him know (guess I'm still kinda like that cat lady after all).